2013 Reds

Devin Mesoraco or Miguel Olivo?

Devin Mesoraco or Miguel Olivo?

We already know that Ryan Hanigan will make the club out of spring training. Which other catcher will make the team? Of course, Mesoraco should be the obvious choice, in my not-even-remotely humble opinion. Guess what?

Mesoraco may not be the obvious choice:

“It’s more than likely a three-time race, basically with Hanigan being the frontrunner,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We have to decide whether to keep Mesoraco or Olivo. …

“Olivo has a lot of experience,” Baker said. “The one draw back is he’s non-roster. You really, really have to play your way on to take somebody off and expose them (to waivers). I know he’s super strong. He has a real good throwing arm. I’ve known him a long time. He brings a lot of energy to the game.”

Okay, much ado about nothing, in my opinion. Olivo isn’t going to make this team, barring injury. He’ll head to Louisville and be available if needed later.

Am I being too optimistic?

Update: Jason here, presumably Chad won’t mind if I point out this piece I have up over at ESPN today that partially addresses Mesoraco’s performance last year.

91 thoughts on “Devin Mesoraco or Miguel Olivo?

  1. I’ve known him a long time. Made me shutter a little bit. Compare that commentary on Olivo to what Dusty said about Sean Marshall… “I was told he can’t go three days in a row,” etc.

    This might be an out there thought, but I’ve wondered if Meso could be a cleanup hitter some day. I love that potential. Though, there have been some good comments around here lately about how likely it may or may not be for him to get right playing two days a week.

  2. You are being just the right amount of optimistic. All things being equal, it will be Mes, not so much because the don’t want to expose someone to wavers as because he is the future catcher of the Cincinnati Reds, and Olivo is probably not. Still, it’s nice to have a veteran backup available in case of emergency.

  3. Here is something to throw out there. If Mesoraco puts up some nice numbers this year wherever he ends up, do you consider trading him? I feel like this could be a possibility if Hannigan has another nice year behind the plate.

  4. On the one hand, I thought Dusty Baker handled the catching position absolutely perfectly last year. Mesoraco got some valuable major league experience, played semi-regularly and his lack of production ultimately didn’t hurt the club. Mesoraco is clearly the catcher of the future, but wasn’t ready last year. With that track record, maybe I should have complete faith in Baker’s decision-making this year.

    On the other hand, Olivo’s weaknesses (hitting approach, defense at the plate) have been blind spots for Baker, while Olivo’s attributes (free swinging power, veteranyness) have often been catnip for the manager.

    My concern is that Olivo will string together a decent spring and make the club, with the easy rationale of sending Mesoraco to AAA where he can play every day. If Hanigan gets hurt, Olivo would presumptively move into the first-team catcher role and we’ll have a terrible situation on our hands.

    The signing may prove to be an exception to Walt’s nice job of Dusty-proofing the roster.

  5. Mesoraco has 2 more options. There will be no waiver process for him. They’d drop someone else from the 40 before Meso. Olivo is here to stay, which is more than relatively stupid. And trading Mesoraco is an awful idea as well. Hanigan has been catching a lot for many years. He’s old. He isn’t getting less old.

    I’m annoyed by all of this talk. Mesoraco should’ve gotten 3 of 5 starts to begin last year, and he should be given 3 of 5 starts to begin this year. Hanigan is underrated by the national media, but ridiculously overrated because of that by Reds fans. He’s an adequate 8-hole hitter, who can handle a staff and plays excellent defense. Any guy who has been around one club for this long would be able to handle a staff well. It isn’t Meso’s fault he’s 24. Meso’s potential ability suggests an all-star catcher, a catcher who hits for average and power, and plays adequate defense.

    The fact people are ready to roll on with the 32 year old Hanigan and simply move on from the 24 year old top prospect that has yet to be given a fair shot is simply ludicrous to me. Unreal.

  6. Your Olivo primer:

    From Baseball Prospectus: “(Olivo) swings at nearly half of all pitches outside the strike zone. He swings at more than half the sliders he sees, and half the curves, and nearly two-thirds of changeups, and 80 percent of splitters. He’s a generational hacker.”

    Olivo’s walk-rate was 2.2% (not a typo) last year. He had the lowest OBP in MLB (by far) for players with 300 AB.

    Jeff Sullivan, from FanGraphs, and Mariners’ blogger, wrote this:

    “(Olivo) might have the league’s very worst batting approach, and he has more career home runs than unintentional walks. As a Mariner, he has more home runs than overall walks. He is not a gifted defender, relative to other backstops, and still none of this has stopped him from finding employment. It’s worth celebrating the fact that we’ll probably never have to watch Miguel Olivo bat as a Mariner again.”

    Dave Cameron of FanGraphs fame, who also writes for U.S.S. Mariner, wrote this about Olivo’s defense:

    “Catching the ball is the basic fundamental skill required of the position – it’s why they’re called “Catchers”. Miguel Olivo is absolutely terrible at this, and has been for a very long time. He’s the active leader in passed balls by a mile – he has 92, the next highest is Ramon Hernandez at 78 – and he has almost twice as many as the #4 guy on the list.”

  7. On that note, Meso is batting cleanup today while Olivo bats ninth…So my anger has been assuaged.

  8. Honestly, I dont understand how Mesoraco not making the team is even really a viable option at this point. He is the future of the reds at the catcher position, and we really need to start to get him in at the major league level on a more structured basis. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Hanigan, but Mesoraco’s upside is a huge factor in my opinion. But all in all, I don’t think that there is much of a chance that dusty doesn’t have him on the opening day roster.

  9. They could do the three catcher thing and then Devin would be more available to PH and run the bases like Dusty likes. Did Dusty really pinch run him last year? That actually happened right?

  10. @Matt WI: Yeah, that really happened. And on some weird confluence of events that were almost painful to watch, he actually made his way around the bases and scored a run. Ultimately, he crossed the plate because of a bad throw from the outfield or some other defensive lapse, as I recall….Heck, Dusty used that blazing speedster Miguel Cairo to pinch run at least once, too. I always thought the idea was to get somebody who was “faster” than the guy he was replacing on the basepaths. Leake and/or Arroyo could have run that day. Water under the bridge, I realize, but yes, you remember correctly.

    It’s Meso’s “bad” luck to come on the scene with the Reds a firm contender. Years ago, with expectations not too high, he could have been the everyday catcher with no controversy or fear of the consequences.

  11. I’ll have a whole post about this down the road a bit, but the notion of Mes not performing last year is a small-sample canard (buy the Redleg Annual if you want a modestly full explanation now). The one are where it is still possible for the Reds to genuinely irk me this year involves sending Devin to Louisville.

    I certainly hope this is much ado about nothing. It has seemed to me that this year, Dusty has had far less say in the makeup of his roster than he has in past years. I feel like Walt is really setting the players on the team without a great deal of input. I like this, but then, I really have no idea.

    • I certainly hope this is much ado about nothing. It has seemed to me that this year, Dusty has had far less say in the makeup of his roster than he has in past years. I feel like Walt is really setting the players on the team without a great deal of input. I like this, but then, I really have no idea.

      This year Dusty has far less say in the makeup of the roster? Walt has been setting the players on the team without a great deal of input? I think that’s a lot of nonsense, again assuming some sort of disagreement or rivalry between Jocketty and Dusty. Isn’t it possible that those two guys might be able to agree on… like… things? Sometimes? Like roster moves?

      Walt Jocketty rarely expresses opinions about anything, therefore we can assume whatever we want about him. It’s a nice position for him to be in – if there’s a controversial decision you can just assume that Jocketty is on your side.

      • This year Dusty has far less say in the makeup of the roster? Walt has been setting the players on the team without a great deal of input?

        Not too far a stretch when Walt made the roster and signed contracts for Chapman to start but Baker wants Chapman to still close.

        • Not too far a stretch when Walt made the roster and signed contracts for Chapman to start but Baker wants Chapman to still close.

          I never heard Walt Jocketty overruling Dusty Baker, telling him that he was doing something wrong that the Reds needed him to change. Do you? Do you recall Jocketty saying on opening day last year that moving Chapman to the bullpen was a mistake by the manager? You might have felt that way, but implying that Jocketty did also… that’s a stretch.

          Also, as far as Devin Mesoraco, anybody remember him getting put on the DL with a concussion shortly before getting sent to AAA? That minor detail seemingly has been forgotten in favor of some imagined image of Dusty Baker booing him off the field and chucking a suitcase at him. Was Mesoraco feeling 100% after his return? I think Dusty has a better idea about that than we do. I definitely believe the concussion (and Navarro’s performance) played a role in the decision to demote Mesoraco.

        • I never heard Walt Jocketty overruling Dusty Baker, telling him that he was doing something wrong that the Reds needed him to change.

          You haven’t? You talk as if you hear something like that everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. I specified it going by Walt’s actions by his roster moves and contract signings as well as Dusty being specifically on record that Chapman as a starter is a club decision, not his. Not too hard to see.

        • Not too far a stretch when Walt made the roster and signed contracts for Chapman to start but Baker wants Chapman to still close.

          I also recall hearing that Walt signed Fred Lewis with the idea of platooning with Jonny Gomes and hitting at the top of the order, but instead, Gomes ended up as pretty much the everyday LF until even Dusty couldn’t justify it anymore. Unsure where I read that though. ….

          And I’m sure Dusty does have some input on players. Or did in the past. He made a point of saying that he had his eye on Xavier Paul back when X was with the Pirates, and then later the Nationals. Nobody here will ever know whether Walt is making more decisions with less input from Baker, but I understand why Jason would make that point.

  12. Devin isn’t going to get better sitting 5 days a week. He needs to play. He should have been in Louisville all last year.

  13. @Steve Mancuso: Well damn, that just about solidifies it.. Dusty has “known him for a long time”, he likes to swing away, his OBP is horrid, he won’t clog up the bases with walks, and he’s got veterany-ness (which Dusty lost a ton of this year with Rolen, Cairo, and such).

    Welcome to the team, I am sure you’ll be good for 200-300 memorable AB, Mr Olivo.

  14. If the playing time is divided like last year then Meso absolutely needs to be in AAA not watching 75% of the games. He needs AB’s. Just because Olivio is the big league back up doesn’t mean he is the starter if Hanigan goes down. Meso comes back up and Olivio is what he is here to do. Be a veteran backup.

  15. If there has to be a taveras on every Baker roster, better from the catching position, hitting 8th 2 times a week. (Signs of resignation)

  16. i think the people here who have suggested that olivo making the team means the reds are “giving up” on mesoraco have it wrong. if mesoraco goes to AAA it’s because they want him to play every day and get his form back, so he can really take over for hanigan.

    if olivo makes the team he’s maybe going to play once a week, and hanigan will be the official starting catcher.

    • i think the people here who have suggested that olivo making the team means the reds are “giving up” on mesoraco have it wrong.

      It’s not as much as what we think. It’s what Devin would think. Not to far of a cry to consider a guy having a taste of the big leagues then being put back in AAA full-time considering that a “demotion”.

      As for our “future”, I’m sort of tired of hearing about our “future”. When will that become our “present”. Devin’s done everything at AAA asked of him plus much more. He deserves a regular shot at the major league level, aka playing everyday for at least a couple of weeks to a month. It’s not uncommon for players needing to play regularly in order to be able to show they can perform. These aren’t dogs, “OK, boy, you are playing today, so go get some hits.” They are still human beings and need their time. Routine can be very important to these guys. And, playing 1-2 games every 5 isn’t any kind of routine.

      Given Devin ended last season in Baker’s doghouse, I wouldn’t be surprised Baker roots for Olivo. You know why Baker would say, “He’s been around the league and knows it.” Well, heck, how are you suppose to play around in the league if you don’t get to play around in the league.

      Don’t get me wrong, I like Hanigan, also. But, Devin deserves a shot. A real shot, like playing at least 2 weeks straight as “the man”, instead of this game here and there BS. Given how long the season is, I think we can allow for that. Then, hey, at worst, we see Devin’s real flaws playing against the best in the game on a regular basis and send him back to AAA to work on those items. At best, we end up getting the best catching tandum the league has seen in years as well as a potential piece of trade bait if needed.

      But, waiting until Hanigan gets too old and retires or something like that, that’s no plan. Even if we did do that, by the time Hanigan comes up, Devin will be as old as Hanigan is now and we will be saying the same thing about Devin then we are saying about Hanigan now. And, we will have missed much of the prime years of our “future” and #1 draft choice.

      Anyone for possibly switching positions?

  17. I think a better debate versus the 2nd catcher is the utility infielder.

    Izturis (probably butchered that name) vs. Donald

    Who wins?

    • I think a better debate versus the 2nd catcher is the utility infielder.

      Izturis (probably butchered that name) vs. Donald

      Who wins?

      Interesting question – I think Jason Donald wins. It’s his job (and roster spot) to lose, and I’m not sure Izturis can beat him out. Izturis has been around for long enough that the Reds know what they could expect from him, while they might hope that there’s room for Jason Donald to improve offensively. I think Donald is somebody they’ll be optimistic about while Izturis is a fall-back plan. And Emmannuel Burriss (or however you spell it) has no chance.

  18. I think it’s worth recognizing (as has already been mentioned here) that Olivo and Mesoraco aren’t exactly competing for the same role. Ryan Hanigan is the #1 guy, no question about it. After that Mesoraco is competing to be the #1A guy, Olivo to be a #2 catcher.

    -Mesoraco might get optioned to AAA so he could play regularly, but he’d get promoted into the Reds’ starting lineup immediately after Ryan Hanigan gets hurt (if that happens)… while Olivo would remain the backup catcher.
    -Mesoraco, there’s a strong argument that hitting regularly in AAA would be more beneficial to his career than sitting 3 out of every 5 games with the Reds, and choosing Olivo is NOT synonymous with giving up on Mesoraco.
    -Mesoraco would probably start more games than Olivo with the Reds, which might influence Hanigan’s performance.
    -Olivo has received bad reviews of his catching, being called lazy and terrible and stuff like that by Mariners fans – I think he knows that he’s already a long shot for the Reds and, with Mesoraco in AAA, his job would constantly remain in jeopardy. The way I see it, he should be highly motivated to work hard – they should cut him at the first sign of laziness or anything like that. I doubt it’d be much of a problem though with the newly added pressure upon him.

  19. I have seen Olivo catch enough to know that I don’t want him on the Reds this year. I remarked on it on the thread that announced his signing. He’s quite possibly the worst defensive MLB catcher I have seen. The ONLY thing he has going for him defensively is a strong, accurate arm.

    As for his hitting, it could come into play if the Reds would PH their backup catcher but this isn’t something many managers, including Baker, like to do. He isn’t exactly a good hitter anyway. Terrible plate discipline and not much of a contact guy. He is strong and can run into one from time to time though. When he does get a hold of one, it tends to go a long way.

  20. @Brian Van Hook: And Edgar Renteria signed to be a 3B/utility IF guy… and then Dusty said no and reminded us he’s too old to play 3B and must stick to the more agile SS position.

    True or not, Dusty has pretty justifiably given credence to the perception that he and Walt are not always on the same page on some pretty main ideas.

    • @Brian Van Hook: And Edgar Renteria signed to be a 3B/utility IF guy… and then Dusty said no and reminded us he’s too old to play 3B and must stick to the more agile SS position.

      True or not, Dusty has pretty justifiably given credence to the perception that he and Walt are not always on the same page on some pretty main ideas.

      Huh? As I remember that Edgar Renteria told reporters that he was unwilling to play anywhere other than thirdbase – he refused to let Dusty play him elsewhere. Dusty could have forced Renteria to play 3b but Renteria was clear that he was unwilling to move. Also, Edgar Renteria, I believe, came to the Reds after building a relationship with Walt Jocketty in St Louis.

  21. @Brian Van Hook: Fred Lewis, Willie Harris – Walt Jocketty has addded a lot of mediocre or bad lefty bats off the bench to fill the final roster spot and Dusty has always received the blame. I haven’t heard Dusty refuse to use the players or blame Jocketty for roster problems, or vice versa. I think Dusty and Jocketty have a fine working relationship, even if they don’t always agree.

    Dusty is responsible for the performance of players on the roster but Jocketty is responsible for putting those guys on the roster. If Jocketty had a problem with a player he’s very capable of removing that player.

  22. @redsfanman: I meant shortstop (not 3b) for Renteria. I thought he made it clear that he was unwilling to play anywhere other than shortstop, like he’d done his whole career. He felt he was too old to learn a new position.

  23. “Boy, this guy is an aggressive hitter up there, Miguel Olivo.” — Jim Kelch

    Yeah, he swings at half the pitches OUT of the strike zone. Just struck out on a curveball.

  24. At the time Walt said, in questions about Janish being the presumed starter: “Whoever we sign will be more of a complementary player able to play different positions and have experience.” Certainly Renteria did his best to make his own preference known, but something got missed. Dusty’s quote: I talked to Edgar. He doesn’t feel real comfortable playing 3rd.” Just so long as you asked Dusty.

    • At the time Walt said, in questions about Janish being the presumed starter: “Whoever we sign will be more of a complementary player able to play different positions and have experience.” Certainly Renteria did his best to make his own preference known, but something got missed. Dusty’s quote: I talked to Edgar. He doesn’t feel real comfortable playing 3rd.” Just so long as you asked Dusty.

      I was at a caravan event at GABP that winter after the Reds had signed Renteria. Walt said that Renteria was going to play “all around the infield” and would “take balls at both third and first base.” Somehow, that ended up with Baker not even giving Renteria a single inning at third or first before deciding he didn’t want to even try Renteria there.

  25. I also remember Dusty pinch running either Cairo or Meso–I cant remember, for Mike Costanzo the one time he managed to get on base. Definitely face palmed on that one. I’ll also always remember game 1 of the NLDS as the game Dusty pinch hit Homer Bailey.

  26. @Matt WI: In that case I think something was lost in communication between Jocketty, Edgar Renteria, and Dusty Baker. Jocketty assumed Renteria would be willing to play multiple positions – you know, team-player type thing – but Renteria made it clear to Dusty that he was unwilling. Dusty, the players’ manager, had the choice of forcing the unwilling veteran Renteria to switch positions.

    Renteria ended up playing 86 games (71 starts) for the Reds at shortstop, 7 innings at 2b, and nowhere else. Whose fault is that? I think it’s debatable. Jocketty, as GM, should’ve known what he was getting into before signing the player.

    • o catch enough to know that I don’t want him on the Reds this year. I remarked on it on the thread that announced his signing. He’s quite possibly the worst defensive MLB catcher I have seen. The ONLY thing he has going for him defensively is a strong, accurate arm.

      As for his hitting, it could come into play if the Reds would PH their backup catcher but this isn’t something many managers, including Baker, like to do. He isn’t exactly a good hitter anyway.

      You are losing something in communication. It was quite specific, as Steve M. dicussed. Walt specified Edgar would play everywhere. Baker played him in essentially one spot.

  27. I think everyone who reads this site with much regularity knows that I believe Meso in 2012 was handed a golden opportunity on a silver platter and proceeded to fritter it away in grand fashion. However I am not really pleased with Olivo as an alternative.

    To those who are still holding to the projection of Meso having a high ceiling, I want to try and explain why I am so down on him.

    Quantitatively, his sample size from last season may seem small; however he started 40% of the games over a two to three month period. That is a very long look by MLB standards (perhaps exactly the type of chance some have been wanting afforded to Hiesey for several years).

    Moreover, Meso just didn’t start 40% of the games over that period, he got to start two games in a row every cycle unless an off day occurred. Also he knew in advance which days he would start which means he knew both which pitchers he would face as a hitter and which hitters his (known) batterymates would be throwing to. Thus given his results, I can’t help but seriously question his work habits and efforts at preparations both as a hitter and as a catcher.

    And that’s why I’d like to see him back at AAA proving himself all over but I’m hoping there will be a spring deal to bring in a more attractive backup than Olivo.

    • I think everyone who reads this site with much regularity knows that I believe Meso in 2012 was handed a golden opportunity on a silver platter and proceeded to fritter it away in grand fashion.

      I, for one, don’t believe that at all. I think Mesoraco is a young player who did poorly in a small sample size. Young players are inconsistent. It happens. It is very short-sighted, IMO, to change his status as the catcher of the future based on 165 at-bats.

      And in no way is that a “very long look.” You just can’t make informed judgments about players based on that much playing time.

      • I, for one, don’t believe that at all. I think Mesoraco is a young player who did poorly in a small sample size. Young players are inconsistent. It happens. It is very short-sighted, IMO, to change his status as the catcher of the future based on 165 at-bats.

        And in no way is that a “very long look.” You just can’t make informed judgments about players based on that much playing time.

        I don’t agree, either. 1-2 games out of every 5 games is a golden opportunity on a silver platter? That isn’t even a happy meal at McD’s.

      • ….And in no way is that a “very long look.” You just can’t make informed judgments about players based on that much playing time.

        I would agree that it takes more time to learn about a player’s physical tools. Is he a flash in the pan or better than he is showing type of stuff However, it doesn’t take long to learn about a player’s mental make up and work habits.

        The player in question was put into an ideal situation to learn and work at applying the lessons. He had the time to prepare for his starts just like a starting pitcher, knowing who he would be facing. He had the resources of the Reds data and video departments to support him. He had the resources of the coaching staff. Yet we saw little to no evidence of effective preparation and follow through on his part.

        Perhaps his issue wasn’t so much that he was inconsistent as it was he was consistent in not adapting and growing in his approach.

        • I would agree that it takes more time to learn abouta player’s physical tools. Is he a flash in the pan or better than he is showing type of stuff However, it doesn’t take long to learn about a player’s mental make up and work habits.

          The player in question was put into an ideal situation to learnand work at applyingthe lessons. He had the time to prepare for his starts just like a starting pitcher, knowing who he would be facing. He had the resources of the Reds data and video departments to support him. He had the resources of the coaching staff. Yet we saw little to no evidence of effective preparation and follow through on his part.

          Perhaps his issue wasn’t so much that he was inconsistent as it was he was consistent in not adapting and growing in his approach.

          What are you talking about? Unless you work for the Reds’ organization, this is all speculation, not fact.

          I don’t care if you hate Mesoraco, but it seems strange to me to state these things as fact.

        • What are you talking about?Unless you work for the Reds’ organization, this is all speculation, not fact.

          I don’t care if you hate Mesoraco, but it seems strange to me to state these things as fact.

          The broadcast team has nearly unlimited access to the team goings on. Brantley questioned Mesoraco’s attitude and work habits several times. Other’s in the booth when he made these statements did not speak up in disagreement. Marty on at least one occasion clearly inferred he agreed. The player’s manager strongly inferred he had issues with the player’s conduct. Welch made at least one comment about lack of adaptation. We could see on the game telecast that his approach wasn’t changing.

        • The broadcast team has nearly unlimited access to the team goings on. Brantley questioned Mesoraco’s attitude and work habits several times. Other’s in the booth when he made these statements did not speak up in disagreement. Marty on at least one occasion clearly inferred he agreed. The player’s manager strongly inferred he had issues with the player’s conduct. Welch made at least one comment about lack of adaptation. We could see on the game telecast that his approach wasn’t changing.

          I’m curious. When you say “approach”, what do you mean? Defense or offense, or both?

          Lots of players hit like crap. If it were easy to fix, well, .300 would be easy to hit, right?

          On defense, his CERA (for those who care) dropped in the middle of the year, so did his approach on defense change?

          As to sourpuss broadcasters, I appreciate that you have more than your own speculation, but I’ll still pass.

        • Brantley questioned Mesoraco’s attitude and work habits several times.

          That’s ok. I frequently question Brantley’s attitude and work habits. Man’s been at the side of a Hall of Famer for years now and still struggles with contextualizing in game action… a fly ball, a homer, a walk… it’s all the same coming from him.

        • The player in question was put into an ideal situation to learn and work at applying the lessons. He had the time to prepare for his starts just like a starting pitcher, knowing who he would be facing. He had the resources of the Reds data and video departments to support him. He had the resources of the coaching staff. Yet we saw little to no evidence of effective preparation and follow through on his part.

          I don’t know… think of anybody trying to make their first impression in the show. If Billy Hamilton played CF twice a week and got 165 AB’s with a sub-par performance, would we be railing him? Is that an ideal learning curve for anyone? It depends entirely on the learner, I suppose.

          People used to scream for someone like Heisey to get more than his shot of playing twice a week to “prove himself.” He did, and every time he fell short. Meso never even got a one week run of playing everyday, much less a month. I’d say we know nothing about this kid, other than the light wasn’t automatically on from the get go… and that’s pretty normal. If fact, it seems par for Mesoraco himself, a slower learning curve over his minor league career (there were whispers of bust) and then he got it going. That it didn’t automatically transfer over to the big leagues doesn’t surprise me.

        • People used to scream for someone like Heisey to get more than his shot of playing twice a week to “prove himself.” He did, and every time he fell short.

          This is tangential to Mes/Olivo, but I was one of the ones who used to scream. For the record, I’m still not recalling anytime when Heisey got everyday playing time for more than a few days at a time. The most consistent playing time that I think he received was at the end of 2011, when he actually did pretty well. … He played most of the time for a few weeks when Stubbs got hurt, but if that’s an everyday audition, not sure that’s any better than what Mes has received.

          Not saying that Heisey would have caught fire like Ludwick did, either, but I do think that if a guy plays sporadically over two or three seasons, people begin to conclude that “he had his chance.” Heisey has value off the bench, so I’m glad he’s still around. Just sayin’.

    • Ohio

      I ditto what Chad said almost in entirety, but I also want to point out that you are mistaken. This is false:

      “Moreover, Meso just didn’t start 40% of the games over that period, he got to start two games in a row every cycle unless an off day occurred.”

      I think people forget that the Reds changed their pitching order in late April. Mesoraco got to play back-to-back games 2 times in April, then didn’t get back-to-back starts again until mid-July. He played 5 sets of back-to-back games from July to August(arguably 1 more set in the game in which he got tossed).

      There is little argument that he struggled in the small sample size. In short, a guy that probably has been the star player his entire life basically learned how to be a backup catcher. No one handles prospects this way, because it’s ridiculous and gives false results.

      Btw, anybody see Bench’s first season?
      .163/.207/.256 in 93 ABs.

    • I think everyone who reads this site with much regularity knows that I believe Meso in 2012 was handed a golden opportunity on a silver platter and proceeded to fritter it away in grand fashion. However I am not really pleased with Olivo as an alternative.

      To those who are still holding to the projection of Meso having a high ceiling, I want to try and explain why I am so down on him.

      Quantitatively, his sample size from last season may seem small; however he started 40% of the games over a two to three month period. That is a very long look by MLB standards (perhaps exactly the type of chance some have been wanting afforded to Hieseyfor several years).

      Moreover, Meso just didn’t start 40% of the games over that period, he got to start two games in a row every cycle unless an off day occurred. Also he knew in advance which days he would start which means he knew both which pitchers he would face as a hitter and which hitters his (known) batterymates would be throwing to. Thus given his results, I can’t help but seriously question his work habits and efforts at preparations both as a hitter and as a catcher.

      And that’s why I’d like to see him back at AAA proving himself all over but I’m hoping there will be a spring deal to bring in a more attractive backup than Olivo.

      I ditto what Chad said almost in entirety, but I also want to point out that you are mistaken. This is false:

      “Moreover, Meso just didn’t start 40% of the games over that period, he got to start two games in a row every cycle unless an off day occurred.”

      I think people forget that the Reds changed their pitching order in late April. Mesoraco got to play back-to-back games 2 times in April, then didn’t get back-to-back starts again until mid-July. He played 5 sets of back-to-back games from July to August(arguably 1 more set in the game in which he got tossed).

      There is little argument that he struggled in the small sample size. In short, a guy that probably has been the star player his entire life basically learned how to be a backup catcher. No one handles prospects this way, because it’s ridiculous and gives false results.

      Btw, anybody see Bench’s first season?
      .163/.207/.256 in 93 ABs.

      • I think everyone who reads this site with much regularity knows that I believe Meso in 2012 was handed a golden opportunity on a silver platter and proceeded to fritter it away in grand fashion. However I am not really pleased with Olivo as an alternative.

        To those who are still holding to the projection of Meso having a high ceiling, I want to try and explain why I am so down on him.

        Quantitatively, his sample size from last season may seem small; however he started 40% of the games over a two to three month period. That is a very long look by MLB standards (perhaps exactly the type of chance some have been wanting afforded to Hieseyfor several years).

        Moreover, Meso just didn’t start 40% of the games over that period, he got to start two games in a row every cycle unless an off day occurred. Also he knew in advance which days he would start which means he knew both which pitchers he would face as a hitter and which hitters his (known) batterymates would be throwing to. Thus given his results, I can’t help but seriously question his work habits and efforts at preparations both as a hitter and as a catcher.

        And that’s why I’d like to see him back at AAA proving himself all over but I’m hoping there will be a spring deal to bring in a more attractive backup than Olivo.

        Jim, I couldn’t agree more.

        I get the feeling the Reds’ pitchers don’t want Mesoraco to catch them. I’ve listened to things said by Marty Brennaman and Mo Eggers on 700 WLW that seem to be, in my opinion, priming the fan base for the very real possibility that Olivo makes the team out of spring training. I wonder if they have some inside knowledge that they can’t really divulge.

        I know I have been ridiculed here for mentioning cERA in the past, but I do not think it is without merit. Hanigan had a cERA of 3.05 in 2012. Mesoraco’s cERA was 4.24. What is Mesoraco’s relationship with the Reds’ pitching staff like? Why did he stop catching Latos?

        I also question his baseball knowledge and perhaps his intellect. He ought to know better than to argue balls and strikes. He ought to know better than to continue to argue with the ump in such an animated fashion that he ends up touching the guy.

        How bad do you have to screw up to get the ultimate players’ manager to yell at you on the field??

        I can’t understand why anyone would be at all confident that Mesoraco makes the team out of spring training.

        But yeah I don’t really like Olivo. I just wish Mesoraco wasn’t so bad.

        • DatFan: I also question his baseball knowledge and perhaps his intellect. He ought to know better than to argue balls and strikes. He ought to know better than to continue to argue with the ump in such an animated fashion that he ends up touching the guy.

          How bad do you have to screw up to get the ultimate players’ manager to yell at you on the field??

          You must have forgotten that we later learned that the incident with the umpire occurred when Mesoraco was suffering from post-concussion syndrome. I guess your superior intellect let you down.

        • You must have forgotten that we later learned that the incident with the umpire occurred when Mesoraco was suffering from post-concussion syndrome. I guess your superior intellect let you down.

          And let us not also forget that Mesoraco suffered that concussion on play which many considered to be an unnecessarily dangerous, and boneheaded play on his part.

        • Pure speculation and specious reasoning! Nice.Well gee, Latos is historically so good in April. Oh wait, he’s a lifetime 2-8 with a 5.73 ERA. And guess who caught Latos only 4 times, only in April? Hmmm.And cERA rears it’s ugly head again. How did Ryan Hanigan shirk all his responsibility for Bronson’s 2011 season? He was Bronson’s personal catcher, amirite?

          These are strawman arguments. Yes I am aware Latos historically has a slow start. That doesn’t explain why Mesoraco stopped catching him.

          You do know Arroyo was ill with mononucleosis during the 2011 season, right? I thought most people here did. I don’t get what your question has to do with evaluating Mesoraco. Was one of the pitchers that Mesoraco caught last year also ill with something? Hanigan and Mesoraco catch the same relief pitchers, right? I can’t remember, did the Reds ever let Mesoraco catch Chapman last year? If not, then why not?

          You must have forgotten that we later learned that the incident with the umpire occurred when Mesoraco was suffering from post-concussion syndrome. I guess your superior intellect let you down.

          Steve, it’s a shame that you decided to resort to an ad hominem attack just because you didn’t like what I said. Just to show you I am above that sort of thing I will refrain from questioning your reading comprehension skills in regard to the fact that I never claimed to have a superior intellect.

          To address the part of your reply that wasn’t an insult, I doubt that Mesoraco’s “concussion” affected him to the point that it excuses arguing balls and strikes and subsequently making contact with the ump. Do you think that getting a concussion a day or two before could make him forget that he shouldn’t do those things?

          I want to see Mesoraco succeed, as I am sure most of you do. I also, however, see him getting treated strangely by the Reds considering how much hype he had coming up. I am curious why he is getting this treatment.

          I don’t think it is ridiculous to speculate that he may be terrible at things that we can’t see when we watch him play.

        • These are strawman arguments. Yes I am aware Latos historically has a slow start. That doesn’t explain why Mesoraco stopped catching him.

          You do know Arroyo was ill with mononucleosis during the 2011 season, right? I thought most people here did. I don’t get what your question has to do with evaluating Mesoraco. Was one of the pitchers that Mesoraco caught last year also ill with something? Hanigan and Mesoraco catch the same relief pitchers, right? I can’t remember, did the Reds ever let Mesoraco catch Chapman last year? If not, then why not?

          Yes, yes, don’t respond to the speculation/specious reasoning comments. I know I didn’t cite my “feelings,” or read into notoriously astute scouts such as Marty Brennaman, or cite such a well regarded stat such as cERA, or give an in depth report on Mes’ intellect based on a superior reading of tea leaves. :lol: :lol:

          Why was Mesoraco removed from catching Latos? We shall point to the obvious: poor results. The question is, whether the poor results were caused by Mesoraco? Latos’ career indicates otherwise. I will not be suggesting any other reasoning, since I do not have any facts otherwise.

          Bronson comment was just a tongue-in-cheek comment regarding the validity of cERA. Hanigan is a good catcher, but strangely, his skills don’t translate well when the pitcher stinks. One of the catchers got to catch Cueto, post-April Latos, and Arroyo, the other got to catch Latos in March/April, Leake and Bailey. I think anyone slightly interested in projecting cERA could estimate what would happen.

          And Mesoraco did catch Chapman and all the other relievers. Maybe someone else would be willing to calculate meaningless cERAs for a relief pitcher who basically was told to throw a fastball down the middle every pitch.

        • Steve, it’s a shame that you decided to resort to an ad hominem attack just because you didn’t like what I said. Just to show you I am above that sort of thing I will refrain from questioning your reading comprehension skills in regard to the fact that I never claimed to have a superior intellect.

          I was making the point that none of us know anything about anyone else’s intellect. You said: “I also question his (Mesoraco’s) baseball knowledge and perhaps his intellect.” If you hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have even responded to your comment. Maybe you feel you can draw inferences about a baseball player’s intelligence based on how they behave in a game. I reject that, just like when people questioned Drew Stubbs’ intelligence because of some base-running. It’s pure speculation, almost certainly wrong and definitely unfair. The players deserve more respect than that. Obviously, I have no idea about your natural intelligence. And neither do you know about Mesoraco’s.

  28. @OhioJim: Personally I already think that bringing in Miguel Olivo was quite a surprise. Bringing in a backup who’s better than him would be a whole different story.

  29. @OhioJim:
    Don’t be so down on Mesoraco. He will come around. I think we’ll see much improvement from him in 2013. After the 2011 season, I was really down on Jay Bruce. The guys here at RN gave me an attitude adjustment on Bruce last spring and I came around and saw the light. I think Bruce made some positive strides at the plate in 2012. Look for bigger things from him in 2013. I’m hoping Mesoraco turns that corner this year and firmly entrenches himself as the tandem catcher to Hanigan. If 2013 goes like 2012 did for Mes, then it might be time to look for that C of the future next winter. I think he deserves another shot.

  30. I would bet a non-signifcant anout of money (meaning not much) that the catching situation this year will be exactly what it was last year. The days of the “everyday catcher” are passing, I think, and tandems like Hanigan/Mes are going to be more and more common.

    Very few catchers can stand up to the physical beating of even 150 games a season – we’ve already seen suggestions that Hanigan can’t. A 3/2 split should keep both guys fresher, and maybe by season’s end, Mes becomes the 3.

    I’ve always wondered what Bench’s career would have been like if he was, say a 3B…

  31. First, I will bet anyone any amount of money that Hanigan catches 3 out of 5 games just like last year, no matter who is the backup. Baker is on record saying that Hanigan wears out if he catches more than that, which to me is perfectly reasonable. If Olivo makes the team, he’s not catching one day per week.

    Second, I will bet anyone a reasonable amount of money that Olivo makes the team over Mesoraco. I’m less certain of this, but I give Olivo the edge.

    • First, I will bet anyone any amount of money that Hanigan catches 3 out of 5 games just like last year, no matter who is the backup.Baker is on record saying that Hanigan wears out if he catches more than that, which to me is perfectly reasonable.If Olivo makes the team, he’s not catching one day per week.

      Second, I will bet anyone a reasonable amount of money that Olivo makes the team over Mesoraco.I’m less certain of this, but I give Olivo the edge.

      I do think Olivo will make it, also. But, not because Olivo is better than Devin; that obviously isn’t the case. The reason will be, at least I could hear Dusty now, “Tony’s been around the league, understands how to play up here, etc.” Well, how can you understand how to play up there if you don’t initially play up there? Given that and because I wouldn’t be surprised if Devin is still in Baker’s doghouse from last season.

  32. I think the Olivo signing was a clear indication of how Dusty feels about Mesoraco. I honestly don’t think Baker will ever give him the chance because of that big blow up last season and then fighting the suspension. I have no inside insight into the situation, but I don’t think baring injury, Mesoraco has a shot in hell to make the team if it is Dusty’s choice.

    • @BJ Ruble:

      I think the Olivo signing was a clear indication of how Dusty feels about Mesoraco. I honestly don’t think Baker will ever give him the chance because of that big blow up last season and then fighting the suspension. I have no inside insight into the situation, but I don’t think baring injury, Mesoraco has a shot in hell to make the team if it is Dusty’s choice.

      “clear indication”? This is not a clear indication by any sense of the word. First, if it was, we wouldn’t be having this thread for discussions with widely varying opinions on it. Secondly, I point to the fact that every year they bring in veteran catchers for camp. Last year thay had like four of them. Navarro was just the only one that stuck. And they were obviously high on Mes going in to last year.

    • I think the Olivo signing was a clear indication of how Dusty feels about Mesoraco. I honestly don’t think Baker will ever give him the chance because of that big blow up last season and then fighting the suspension.I have no inside insight into the situation, but I don’t think baring injury, Mesoraco has a shot in hell to make the team if it is Dusty’s choice.

      I think that’s a lot of nonsense. Teams usually bring 6 catchers to spring training, and Miguel Olivo was the 6th, joining Corky Miller, Tucker Barnhart, Nevin Ashley, Mesoraco, and Hanigan. Last spring they invited Dioner Navarro and Brian Esposito instead of Olivo and Ashley, I believe.

      Dusty didn’t sign Miguel Olivo, the GM did. Walt Jocketty did. I assume the Reds all wanted a veteran catcher to compete for a spot, and that’s what Jocketty found. They signed Olivo to a minor league contract – it’s still Mesoraco’s job to lose. Jocketty is the guy who will be responsible for making a final roster move.

      Devin Mesoraco and Jason Donald are both the favorite for their roles as backup catcher and backup shortstop, respectively. Miguel Olivo and Cesar Izturis could perform well and win those jobs in spring training, but in both case it’s another guy’s job to lose. Their presence in spring training camp, on minor league contracts, in no way makes them the favorites but they each make spring training far more competitive.

      I think they’ll make a decision based on how Mesoraco and Olivo hit and catch in the spring. I think Dusty and the Reds have confirmed that the backup catcher role is Devin Mesoraco’s job to lose, but he could lose it if he doesn’t beat out the competition. Sounds fair.

  33. I have to agree that last year was too small a sample size to draw conclusions on Mesoraco’s hitting ability. Johnny Bench was called up at the end of the 1967 season and batted .163 with 1 homerun in 86 AB. He proved to be a much better hitter than that once he started playing regularly. Of course, Bench was only 19 at the time.

    I really thought Olivo was added as organizational depth in case Mes or Hanigan get injured, but always remain wary of Baker’s decisions when an older veteran is involved.

  34. Guess who I watched catching Chapman’s pitching session? Yup, Olivo. Perhaps Dusty has them building a connection? I hope not.

    Mes did catch Bailey’s one inning but isn’t Hannigan likely to catch most of Homer’s games? I know Arroyo/Hannigan is set in stone . . .

    I will be watching closely to see who catches Chapman’s live game and if Olivo gets any game time catching Latos or Cueto . . .

  35. @BJ Ruble: I think if the thought is that Mes is still in Dusty’s doghouse for the suspension, then shame, double shame on Dusty. Shock of shocks, a young player losing his cool… you would hope that lesson is learned and then some. Isn’t that part of Dusty’s job? To mentor and help him grow as a player? Certainly there may be more to their relationship than we’re privy to, but I think Olivo is just a redundancy for a position that is tough to maintain for a lot of teams.

    The Brewers struck some gold in Martin Maldonado when Lucroy went down. Maybe if Mes had hit like that, the Reds wouldn’t have brought in Olivo, but I can’t blame them for covering their bases. I’m hoping Mes will make this team and put last year’s sample size on its head.

  36. I think another thing to consider is that it generally takes longer for catchers to develop and to “get it”. I’m a little biased as a former catcher but I really do believe it is the toughest position to play.

    What I’m unsure about is why some were bashing Mesoraco’s defense. He is a pretty good receiver and in fact is an above-average catcher when it comes to framing pitches. Of course he really blew it on that “worst ball call of the year” thing that is referenced in the ESPN piece on the Reds sophomores.

  37. @Brian Van Hook: You’re right… wasn’t the best of best examples. Heisey, while playing in some way almost daily, rarely got day in and day out starts in a row. Still got double the PA’s Meso got. But point taken.

  38. I kind of agree with @BJ Ruble. I think Meso being the only player Dusty has ever yelled on the field says something. Shortly after that Meso went down and when he came back didn’t get a sniff. That clearly indicates something.

  39. Any rift between Dusty Baker and Mesoraco is speculation and perception. We can speculate that there may be a rift there based on what we’ve observed but unless one of us sits down and talks with Baker, Mesoraco or both, it’s all speculation.

    Personally, I don’t think the Reds have come close to giving up on Mesoraco, nor do I think Baker has anything in particular against him. He’s a 1st round pick with a lot of money and time invested in him. It’s the same reason that they didn’t just throw in the towel on Stubbs with all his struggles.

  40. Pure speculation and specious reasoning! Nice.

    Well gee, Latos is historically so good in April. Oh wait, he’s a lifetime 2-8 with a 5.73 ERA. And guess who caught Latos only 4 times, only in April? Hmmm.

    And cERA rears it’s ugly head again. How did Ryan Hanigan shirk all his responsibility for Bronson’s 2011 season? He was Bronson’s personal catcher, amirite?

  41. @DatFan: Jeez, this is unbelievable. We’re comparing CERAs? When Mesoraco gets Leake? Maybe Leake’s the problem.

    Also, Brennaman isn’t preparing the fan base for anything. He’s trying to get Mesoraco out of town. This isn’t the first time.

    Again, I happen to believe Olivo will with > 50% chance make the team and Mesoraco will get shipped out. But the speculation I’m reading is ridiculous.

    Finally, for Mesoraco: he WAS bad LAST year, he might be good this year. You say he’s bad like he’s, well, Miguel Olivo—with a track record.

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